Anthropology 1020E Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Shroud Of Turin, Obsidian Hydration Dating, Jamestown Rediscovery

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Most reliable evidence for two kinds of information
1. Human activities at a particular period in the past
2. Changes in those activities from period to period
changes occur vertically/ vertical sequences of time
Stratigraphy: the study of stratification, the laying down or depositing of strata or layers
(deposits) one above another
Succession of layers provides a relative chronological sequences from earliest to latest
Arch work designed to obtain such sequences; must detect if there has been any
human or natural disturbance of the layers
Association: objects, artifacts, structures and organic remains n association with the
same deposit; a sequence of sealed deposits gives a sequence/relative chronology
If one object like a coin can be given an absolute date through radiocarbon dating then
it is possible to assign an absolute date to the sealed deposit
THIS Interconnecting OF STRATEGRAPHIC SEQUENCS with absolute dating
methods that provides the most reliable basis for dating archaeological sites and their
Have to remember the human activities and the jumbling of items (throwing out pottery
that would be dated much later than the trash)
>Methods of Excavation
-the wheeler box-grid: general Pitt-rivers satisfies both vertical and horizontal requirements by
retaining intact balks of earth between the squares of the grid so that different layers can be
traced and correlated across the site in vertical profiles, bad for deep sites
-open-area excavation: Phillip barker, argued better to open large areas and cut vertically only here
they are needed , good for single-period deposits native American longhouses
-step-trenching for dangerous digs or cofferdam sheet piling
>recovery and Recording of the Evidence
-shallow single period Paleolithic or Neolithic site use 3d provenience; after these periods specialist
should use sieve for small artifacts; once recovered and its provenience recorded, it should be
given a number which is catalogued
>Processing and Classification
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-cleaning of artifacts: first broad sorting into stone tools, pottery, metal objects; then subdivided into
smaller groups for later analysis; classification commonly done of 3 basic attributes 1. Surface
(decoration and colour), 2. Shape (dimensions and shape), 3. Technological (primarily raw
Artifacts with similar attributes grouped either by typology
Groups of artifact and building types at a particular time and place are termed assemblages
Groups of assemblages define archaeological cultures
ordering artifacts, deposits and societies into sequences = relative dating
-absolute dating: age in years before the present, help us find out how quickly changes occurred
and whether they were simultaneous
Relative Dating
-changes in earths climate also give rise to local, regional and global environmental sequences, all
sequences can be sued for relative dating
-succession of layers; idea of association important, if you can absolute date one artifact of the
sealed deposit, a series of such dates will give an absolute chronology for the whole
>Typological Sequences
-arch define the form of an artifact such as a pot by its specific attributes of material, shape and
-products of a particular time and place have a recognizable style, idea is that the change in style
(shape and decoration) is gradual
-best way to assign a relatable date to an artifact is to match it with an artifact already recognized
within a well established typological system, if such typology is tied to a stratigraphic
sequences of deposits that can e dated by radiocarbon then artifacts can themselves have an
absolute date
-allows assemblages of artifacts to be arranged in a succession or serial order, which is then taken
to indicate their ordering in time, or their relative chronology
Climate and Chronology
>Pleistocene Chronology
-the great ice age made of 4 major glacial, or periods of glacial advance, in the midst of this were
warmer periods called interglacial
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>pollen dating: pollen almost indestructible surviving in all types of conditions
best known pollen sequences are those developed for northern Europe were an elaborate
succession of so called pollen zones covers the last 18,000 years
can date back to 3 million years ago
Absolute Dating
-the three most important methods: calendars and historical chronologies, tree-ring dating and
radiocarbon dating
-Paleolithic period, potassium-argon dating and uranium-series dating are vital
Calendars and historical chronologies
-arch must bear in mind 3 main points when working with early historical chronologies
1. the chronological system requires careful reconstruction and any list rulers or kings needs to be
reasonably complete
2. the list although it may reliably record the number of years in each reign, has still to be linked
with our own calendar
3. the artifacts, features, or structures to be dated at a particular site have somehow to be related to
the historical chronology (association with an inscription referring to the ruler of the time)
Annual Cycles: Varves and Tree-Rings
-varves: in lands bordering the polar regions, the melting of the ice sheets each year when temps
rise leads to the formation of annual deposits of sediment in lake beds (Scandinavia) helped
determine end of ice age
>Tree-Ring Dating: dendrochronology Douglass,
2 distinct uses in arch: as a successful means of calibrating or correcting radiocarbon dates; as
independent method of absolute dating in its own right
-basis of method: tree rings become narrower with age
-application 1: long master sequences and radiocarbon dating, unbroken sequence done in
California since 6700 BC
-ap 2: direct tree ring dating: match preserved timber with part of the master sequence
-limiting factors: it only applies to trees in regions outside the tropics where pronounced season
occur; for direct tree ring dating it is restricted to wood from those species that, have yielded a
master sequence back from the present and, where the sample affords a sufficiently long
record to give a unique match
Radioactive Clocks
-regular feature in the natural world, radioactive decay – best known method is radiocarbon main
dating tool for last 50,000 years
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